Hyundai Sonata Years To Avoid (5 Major Problems)

Classical, well-equipped, top-notch, and luxury features are all attributes of the Hyundai Sonata. It is inarguably a desirable sedan for inter-state and cross-country travels.

The Hyundai Sonata is one of the finest cars in its “midsize” category, and it has been around for a long time, so there are many model years to choose from.

But then, not all Hyundai Sonata models are worth buying – especially when you’re buying a used one. Hence, this article explains the worst Hyundai Sonata years to avoid and why you should do so.

Practically, you should avoid the indicated Hyundai Sonata years because they are “problematic” and expensive to repair.

Hyundai Sonata Overview

The Hyundai Sonata is a midsize sedan series produced by the Japanese automaker Hyundai. There have been several generations of the Hyundai Sonata – up to the newest eighth generation.

When buying a brand new Hyundai Sonata, the available transmission options include 6-speed or 8-speed auto transmission and 7-speed or 8-speed DCT.

Hyundai Sonata debuted in 1985 and has since experienced several design upgrades and facelifts. There are also different versions and special editions of the Hyundai Sonata. Overall, it is a classical sedan for the family – offering sufficient space for the passenger(s) and cargo.

See Also: Worst Hyundai Elantra Years To Avoid

Hyundai Sonata Years To Avoid And Why

A few Hyundai Sonata model years are flagged as the “Worst” years because they received a high number of complaints on different reputable websites, including Consumer Reports and CarComplaints.

Hence, based on owner reports, here are the worst Hyundai Sonata years to avoid.

  • 2006 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2010 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2012 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2013 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2015 Hyundai Sonata

Common Problems With Hyundai Sonata

These problems were reported by people who owned the Hyundai Sonata model years mentioned above.

1. Engine Problems

  • Affected Models: 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 Hyundai Sonata models

Any problem with the engine of a vehicle should be taken seriously because the engine is the “lifeblood” of an automobile. The Hyundai Sonata made in the above-indicated years is linked with quite a number of engine problems, especially on the 2011 model.

Some of the commonly reported problems include seized engine, loud noise, engine cuts off or dies off while driving, the engine catching fire while driving, and fatal failure.

Of all these problems, the engine catching fire while driving is the scariest. Well, these problems typically occur at high mileage, and the average repair cost is $4,500, which is the average cost of replacing a Hyundai Sonata engine.

2. Interior Accessories Problems

  • Affected Models: 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 Hyundai Sonatas

A high number of complaints were received for different interior accessories in the above-indicated Hyundai Sonata model years.

Common problems include broken seat panels, incorrect readings in the gauges/meters on the dashboard, navigation system problems, cracked dashboard, and cruise control malfunctioning.

These issues allegedly occur at low mileage, and in most cases, they are caused due to poor materials used by the OEM(s). To fix most interior accessories problems on a Hyundai Sonata costs an average of $1,500 as you may need to totally replace the affected accessory/component.

3. Electrical Faults

  • Affected Model: 2011 and 2012 Hyundai Sonata models

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata seems to have many problems, including electrical faults such as the engine’s inability to start due to faulty electrical components, starter failure, several dashboard lights staying on, and the battery dying off if the car is parked overnight.

As reported by the owners, the average repair cost of fixing Hyundai Sonata electrical problems is $300; common fixes include changing the battery, replacing the starter, and troubleshooting other electrical components.

4. Lights Problems

  • Affected Models: 2011, 2013, and 2014 Hyundai Sonatas

Several complaints hint that Hyundai Sonata stock bulbs burn out quickly, and the brake/tail lights are faulty. The majority of complaints are about the brakes & tail lights burning/blowing out too quickly.

To fix most of these problems, the owners have to replace the lights housing and get new bulbs; the average cost of these actions is $400.

5. Steering Problems

  • Affected Models: Mostly reported on the 2011 and 2012 Hyundai Sonata

You definitely won’t want to experience steering issues while driving. A reasonable number of Hyundai Sonata have alleged that they’ve experienced different steering problems with the SUV.

Common problems include clicking noise when steering, the steering wheel getting too loose and wobbling, steering knuckle failure, and steering pulling to one side while driving. These problems reportedly occur above 70k miles, and the average repair cost is $380.

Best Hyundai Sonata Years To Buy

We’ve talked of the worst years to avoid. What bout the best years to buy? Well, the earliest models from 1989 to 2000 weren’t bad, but they are too old to be driven in this modern era.

So, we’d recommend the 2001 to 2009 models and the newer ones from 2016. Thus, here’s the list of the best Hyundai Sonata years to buy.

  • 2005 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2006 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2007 to 2009 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2014 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2016 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2017 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2018 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2019 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2020 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2021 Hyundai Sonata

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hyundai Sonata a Good Used Car?

For sure, it is. The Hyundai Sonata is a good car – overall. If you find a used one at a reasonable price, that could be a great deal for you! However, when buying a used car, there are certain things you should look out for in the vehicle, and of course, you should do a thorough inspection before making payment.

Is The Hyundai Sonata a Reliable Car?

Yes, it is. Several auto review websites have rated the Hyundai Sonata above average in terms of reliability. Also, Hyundai Sonata scores a 4.2 out of 5.0 reliability rating on RepairPal. Sonata is practically the most refined sedan from the Japanese automaker, Hyundai.

Are Sonatas Problematic?

Not really; a well-maintained Hyundai Sonata can last over 250,000 miles or 15 service years. Notwithstanding, many users allege that their Hyundai Sonata’s engine caught fire while they were still driving – that’s a serious concern to worry about.

See Also: Worst Dodge Cummins Years To Avoid


Summarily, this article explains the worst Hyundai Sonata years to avoid and why you should do so. It also lists the best model years to choose from when buying a used (or brand new) Hyundai Sonata sedan.

However, it is important to note that even though some Hyundai Sonata years are labeled the “worst years,” they are still being bought and driven by a lot of people.

The main thing here is maintenance and driving culture; with proper maintenance and good driving culture, any Hyundai Sonata can last very long before needing major repairs.

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